Education Must Align to Industry


In this my third rant about the Education system, I shift my focus from teaching methods (or more to the point – the ineffectiveness of how we transfer knowledge into the mind sponges of our youth K – 12) to how industry can play an important role.

The future of our nation depends on children having their collective minds introduced to growth industries where they can be exposed to alternative career choices and in areas where they will maximize their chances of actually getting a job! Yes, this has to happen way before University or higher ed studies.

Nothing beats the power of industry wanting to get involved and our Prime Minister Tony Abbott has seen this in action on his trip to the US where he witnessed an IBM backed corporate school in New York.  What makes me hopeful (and even a tad excited) is reading in the Australian Financial Review (13 June 2014) that the federal assistant Education Minister Sussan Ley agrees that Australia needs to create stronger links between education and industry.

But, like with most good ideas that may actually have some merit, there are people in this world who will resist without even wanting to find out more as Angelo Gavrielatos – President of the Australian Education Union (AEU), in his wisdom, has managed to do.

Let’s pour cold water of this and get everyone nervous by stating that corporations can’t shape the curriculum due to the risk that our children will get a narrow education! What people need to realize is that we have a problem right now in that we have such an archaic and fiercely protective education system, that is so resistant to change, that apart from a few exceptions, still fails on its key responsibilities.  That is, to introduce and nurture our children to new and innovative teaching experiences and information (refer to my earlier blogs: My Rant Part I and Part II) – the things that may actually open up new horizons and ideas.

Sure, I belong to the ICT industry and I have experienced first hand some of the resistance met by Associations similar to those like the AEU where quite frankly, they should know better.  What has this caused?  Well, as much as I would like to think that teachers, teaching methods or more to the point the curriculum would be to blame for a shortage of skills in our industry, the fact remains that many career guidance counselors today do not come from a sciences or math background nor are they across the latest trends in a broad range of industries.  We can’t expect them to be.  Teachers have enough on their plate and many have all good intentions and love to teach but are working within the confides of a flawed education system (globally).

Parents, who are the biggest influencers in the career choices their children make, will look for guidance in schools.  So that doesn’t give me any confidence that things will change any time soon – at least for ICT.

A fellow industry colleague, Paul Cooper stated to me:  “that there’s amazing talent here that is being shut down at present for a hunkering down mentality rather than seeking new opportunities through adversity (such as the inevitable decline in manufacturing)”.  I couldn’t have put it better myself.

History has proven time and time again that innovation occurs in times of adversity!  Well we’re here and the time is now to try something different.

Furthermore, what’s the harm in trialing how active corporate involvement could work in schools, evaluating it, then make a clear assessment based on the evidence?

If industry is prepared to take some responsibility and make investments in education then this should be embraced with both hands.    I can’t think of what could be more narrow minded thinking than retaining the status quo  where creativity and free spirited imagination is being stifled because our current education system can’t scale or manage it any other way!

I have seen little evidence where children  are encouraged to think outside the square in terms of the possibilities of new vocations that may not even exist today, which could be fostered in a collaborative learning environment, assisted by technology, that will embrace unbridled enthusiasm and creative thinking.

It’s encouraging to see that some schools are taking a lead role but this needs to be a whole of education initiative in order to maximize the accessibility of innovative approaches to all!

More has to be done and by getting active involvement from the people representing industries who are prepared to roll their sleeves up and who hopefully will be instrumental in employing our sons and daughters in the future.

The current system does not produce work ready individuals (both emotionally and intellectually) – all industry wants to do is to invest to fix the problem sooner rather than facing the problem when they’re ready to be employed which is all too late.

Let’s hope commonsense prevails and that we can people behind such an important initiative.